INAP IS NOW HORIZONIQ.
Click here to LEARN more.

Jun 26, 2017

AWS vs. Private Cloud: How to Make the Right Decision

INAP

A few years ago, private cloud became a bit of a punching bag for IT journalists, as industry analysts touted the general superiority of the public cloud and services like AWS. But that narrative is quickly fading.

Why Consider Private Cloud?

Private clouds are not only growing, they’ll continue to be an essential component of cloud strategies for organizations of all sizes for the foreseeable future. In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, 32 percent of organizations are already using or will be using a hosted private cloud solution by the end of 2017.1 Forrester, meanwhile, predicts the private cloud market to grow 11 percent annually through 2021.2  

However, as with most things in the world of IT, the AWS public cloud vs. Private Cloud debate isn’t always a binary one. It depends first and foremost on the use case. In this post, I’ll give a simple overview of the pros and cons of  private and public cloud options to help you determine which solution makes sense for your unique business needs.

Benefits of AWS Public Cloud

Generally speaking, AWS shines when it comes to substantial scalability and burstable, on-demand resource allocation. Using AWS allows organizations to scale to fit their requirements and only pay for what they’re using. Plus, AWS provisioning is often as simple as a few button clicks, and is unmatched in terms of global reach.

The ease of access and the elastic provisioning is an inherent advantage over traditional, on-premise private cloud models, it’s easy to see why AWS public cloud is an attractive option for so many organizations. An internal private cloud generally requires upfront capital expenditure, dedicated IT staff for management, and usually isn’t as scalable as a private cloud.

But hosted private clouds, which use resource pool-based payment models that make it easy to rightsize compute and storage needs, are making up ground fast with automated on-demand deployments and flexible managed services.   

Benefits of Hosted Private Cloud

There is something to be said for the level of control private clouds offer, as well. In a world where performance in multi-tenancy environments and the smallest of architecture details can make or break things like HIPAA compliance or application service quality, public cloud solutions can often add an additional layer of complexity to meeting business objectives. The security and performance advantages of single-tenant, fully isolated cloud environments are often enough to tip the scale for businesses that want ultimate control of their infrastructure destiny.

Furthermore, as private cloud technologies like VMware and Microsoft Azure Stack mature and adapt to market demands, the benefits of AWS are becoming less and less absolute.

All this leads to the biggest factor: Many use cases simply don’t call for the elasticity and scalability AWS provides, meaning you could end up paying a premium for benefits your team just doesn’t need. In fact, a study conducted by a group of cloud vendors suggested that once organizations are spending upwards of $7,000 a month with AWS, a private cloud is actually more cost effective.3 But trying to pinpoint the cost tipping point isn’t the right approach. It really comes down to workload needs.    

AWS Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud—Why Not Both?  

Simply put: The ultimate advantages of AWS are clearest in environments that have resource demands that are highly variable and dynamic, while the private cloud may make more sense for applications with predictable usage as well as workloads that need to be running without performance degradation 24/7/365.  

In all likelihood, the most favorable solution will be hybrid  —  run some of your applications in AWS and some in a hosted private cloud. But in order to adopt this mindset, your organization must first place the requirements of critical workloads ahead of any legacy or singular preference toward a particular infrastructure solution.

At INAP, we call this application-driven infrastructure management. Applications drive your business. The job of the infrastructure is to simply make sure those apps run with maximum efficiency in all aspects, including performance, cost, security and availability.

It’s an agnostic approach we believe separates partners from vendors. Vendors in this industry sell infrastructure products. Partners put your IT strategy and goals first.

This is where our team at INAP adds value to organizations day-in-day out. With expertise in managed private cloud, managed public clouds like  AWS and Azure, security and compliance, and business continuity solutions, we help customers solve real-world business problems using the technology that best supports their applications  —  all the while removing the support burden so you can focus on business as usual.

Research Notes:
1. Gartner Inc. “Cloud Adoption Trends Favor Public Cloud With a Hybrid Twist
2. Forrester Research. “Private Cloud Adoption Is Alive And Well”
3. Network World. “Is there a point where a private cloud is cheaper than the public cloud?”

Explore HorizonIQ
Bare Metal

LEARN MORE

About Author

INAP

Read More
Jun 21, 2017

What is Managed Hosting?

Paul Painter, Director, Solutions Engineering

Managed hosting is an IT hosting model in which the client leases servers or cloud computing resources from a service provider is responsible for overseeing the administration of the client environment or specific aspects of the client environment. Managed hosting services typically encompass server upkeep, resource monitoring, networking configuration, security updates, and operating system management.

Many managed hosting providers also offer managed backup and disaster recovery solutions, and extend management services beyond their own data centers to third party cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.     

Evolution of Hosting

Before the proliferation of web hosting services, a business that wanted to be online had to first purchase their own server and networking infrastructure, as well the expertise necessary to maintain their websites. This proved both costly and challenging for most businesses, paving the way for hosting companies to lease server space for a fraction of the cost.

But there was still a skills gap. Traditional hosting services required customers to maintain their own systems, a challenge that gained prominence as services and system architecture grew more complex. Hosting companies quickly noticed the high demand for technical assistance from customers who lacked the capabilities to manage their own environments.  

Top Benefits of Managed Hosting

Economies of scale, network uptime, expertise and the ability to outsource repetitive tasks unrelated to one’s core business are among the most important benefits of managed hosting.   

  1. Time Savings: With traditional, dedicated hosting, customers are required to manage their own networks, storage, servers and software upgrades. With managed hosting, much of the backend workload is taken care of so customers can focus on their applications and data.
  2. Cost Savings:  Managed hosting plans trade capital expenditures for operational expenditures, meaning companies aren’t locked into expensive hardware refresh cycles and costs associated with maintaining on-premise data centers. Compared to unmanaged hosting services, managed hosting plans typically have a larger sticker price; however, the difference is  often made up in reduced labor costs, which are typically the No. 1 expense of operating IT infrastructure.
  3. Technical Support: Available on-call around the clock, managed hosting providers employ technicians, system administrators and network operations engineers certified in a vast range of technologies. Hiring in-house for this degree of collective expertise is prohibitively expensive for all but the largest of enterprises.
  4. Reliability: Quality managed hosting providers operate fully redundant, Tier 3 data centers staffed by a 24/7 network operations center team, resulting in reliable service and high uptime.        

Managed Hosting Differentiators: Solution Flexibility and SLAs

Two areas of managed hosting plans most often distinguish service providers: levels of control offered to customers and service level agreements (SLAs), which stipulate benchmarks around performance and service quality.    

First, some fully managed hosting plans restrict customers’ access to their own environments. Meaning, the provider owns the entire management process. While ideal for customers who have no interest in maintaining any aspect of their infrastructure, many companies prefer to maintain control of certain processes, and thus need root access.

Co-Management plans allow customers to work as partners with the hosting provider to define areas of responsibility with granularity. Flexibility is also an important concern. Prospective customers should ask providers if they’ll be able to adapt the terms of the managed services at any point during the contract to accommodate changing needs.

Secondly, SLAs are doubly important for managed hosting services, as the value-add extends well-beyond network up time. Make sure your provider’s SLA accounts for support response time, issue resolution and access to senior-level management in the event of severe incidents. Furthermore, customers should expect full transparency and ensure the provider has a means of displaying up-to-date status of SLA performance.

Is Managed Hosting Secure?

Managed hosting providers know that the confidence in their service is derived from their ability to secure and handle their customer’s data and information with sensitivity. Most hosting companies employ enterprise grade firewall, antivirus and network security solutions, and also ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive materials.

Economies of scale is a factor here, as well. The cost of employing security personnel and technologies  to protect environments is drastically lower per customer since the provider spreads these costs across their install base.

Customers can also access premium managed security services such as DDoS (distributed denial of service) identification and mitigation at the network level and OS hardening and patching at the server level.   

Future of Managed Hosting: Software Defined Management for the Hybrid Cloud World

As more companies are choosing to move their infrastructure off-premise, the managed hosting industry is expected to grow for the foreseeable future. The biggest change, however, will be how providers manage environments.

Most companies are opting for hybrid or multi-cloud strategies, in which applications are hosted in multiple environments and different providers. As a result leading hosting providers like HorizonIQ are turning toward advanced automation and software defined processes for managing customer operating systems regardless of where they’re hosted.

By putting the workload and application first, companies can derive the benefits of flexible, hybrid hosting solutions while consolidating complex monitoring and management tools to one provider.  

Updated: January 2019

Explore HorizonIQ
Bare Metal

LEARN MORE

About Author

Paul Painter

Director, Solutions Engineering

Read More
Jun 1, 2017

Public vs. Private Cloud Backups: Which is Right for You?

INAP

Your most valuable corporate resource? Data. Effective storage and analysis of data leads to improved strategic decision-making, while rigorous handling and monitoring practices ensure that companies meet (or exceed) both private and government-mandated compliance expectations.

It’s no surprise that cloud backup and recovery has become a hot topic across the industry as organizations look for ways to both safeguard critical assets and reduce recovery times in the event of a network-wide disaster.

Leading the charge are cloud-based backup solutions — as noted by TechTarget, 57 percent1 of businesses use cloud storage primarily for data backups, driving significant and sustained market growth. But it’s one thing to talk about cloud-based backup as a general solution and another to drill down and discover the best fit for your organization. When it comes to both restoring critical data and managing the total cost of ownership, what’s the better choice: Larger Public Cloud providers like Amazon and Azure or a Private Cloud partner like INAP?

Choices, Choices

As with most cloud services, you have two basic choices when it comes to spinning up cloud backups: Public Cloud options that let you choose a mix of storage, access, and seeding options; and managed Private Cloud solutions that come prepackaged to provide easy integration.

Given the maturity of cloud computing environments, both are now viable solutions for small businesses, midsize organizations, and large enterprises — the choice often depends on how you prefer to manage your cloud backups and how much you want to pay.

Public Cloud Backup Solutions

Public cloud backup is ideal for agile-minded customers who seek competitive, pay-as-you-go pricing and no long-term contracts. Most major platforms like AWS or Azure allow you to pick and choose the right services and add-ons, providing a solution tailored to your needs.

Also, the global availability and scale of the big public cloud players makes geographic redundancy and scalability incredibly easy to achieve.

Archival storage solutions like Glacier for AWS are highly affordable options for data you’re required to store, but never (or rarely) plan to access  — e.g. employee or student records. The never or rare part is key  —  unlocking that data at a later time, as we’ll see later, can cost you big.       

Private Cloud Backup Solutions

What about fully managed backup solutions (aka. Backup as a Service) in a hosted private cloud? While the natural candidates for this solution are companies with smaller IT staff or those that prefer to outsource cloud solutions and focus on line-of-business (LoB) efforts, there’s a case to be made for managed solutions regardless of business type or size.

Here’s why: Using a managed cloud backup solution — like INAP Cloud Backup powered by Veeam Cloud Connect — means you get the total backup package. It’s set up and ready to go from the moment it’s connected to your network. Reputable providers can get you up and running in less than 10 minutes.

Other benefits of managed solutions include total visibility of all cloud backups and best-in-class storage hardware. With many providers now staking their reputation on the efficacy and reliability of backup solutions, managed offerings typically leverage cutting-edge tech to provide high availability and speedy recovery. Private Cloud solutions also take care of onboarding needs, such as data seeding, integration, and accessibility.

Beware Hidden Costs of Public Cloud Backups

When it comes to solutions backup storage, many customers make their decision solely on cost. So which costs more, public cloud or managed private cloud options? The answer seems simple on the surface — if you’re getting more, you’re paying more, so managed solutions will always tip the scale. At first glance, this holds true for cloud data backups: Managed solutions come with a larger monthly cost than picking and choosing the services that fit your business needs.

But it’s not quite so simple.

Consider the process of seeding — while it’s possible to leverage network connections between local stacks and the data center to move all necessary backup data, this is time and resource-intensive. As a result, companies often use physical drives for seeding at the local level, then transport these drives to data centers for long-term storage.

Top-tier managed services include both seeding appliances and production-grade cloud storage; for most public cloud providers, this is oftentimes a very pricey add-on cost.

Companies also need to consider retrieval fees and network egress: How much does a Public Cloud provider charge per GB to restore your data? What’s the price if you need to shift away from your existing cloud storage supplier?

And no discussion of cloud backup would be complete without mentioning support. Fully managed services often provide 24/7 support as part of their backup offering, while support (if any) for public cloud options comes at a cost. This is crucial for companies backing up sensitive data regulated by compliance regimes like PCI DSS or HIPAA.

Cloud backup is necessary to protect critical data and ensure IT compliance. Both Public Cloud and fully managed Private Cloud solutions are now viable choices in a maturing cloud market — each offers obvious advantages, but when it comes to total expenses, there’s more than meets the eye.

Research Notes

  1. TeachTarget 

Updated: January 2019

Explore HorizonIQ
Bare Metal

LEARN MORE

About Author

INAP

Read More